HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The FBI is warning that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitals in the wake of the violence in Washington, D.C. last week.
An FBI bulletin warns of a “huge uprising” in every state starting this week and leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. State officials say they’re taking the warnings seriously, but haven’t gotten word of any credible threat to Hawaii’s state Capitol.
The Governor’s Office says it’s taking appropriate steps to ensure security there and and government buildings across the state.
“Authorities and law enforcement are aware of the concerns,” said House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti. “Leadership in both the House and Senate are concerned and I think they are taking steps to address the concerns as they occur.”
The state Capitol building is closed to the public because of the pandemic, but the rotunda is open.
“Because of the increasing discourse and incivility, at the last session we had members of the public banging on the glass windows of the Senate chambers so there are real concerns,” said Belatti.
The state Capitol is current undergoing construction and on Monday workers were seen upgrading the security cameras in the rotunda.
House Minority Leader Gene Ward said the open nature of Hawaii’s Capitol is a concern.
“We are one of the most dangerous capitols in the United States,” he said.
For years, the Republican has proposed changes in the rotunda because he believes the open floor plan leaves lawmakers vulnerable to attack.
The threat of potential violence is also worrying community groups.
On Jan. 17, a spiritual walk will honor Queen Liliuokalani and commemorate the overthrow in 1893. The event will be livestreamed and attendance will be capped at 50 people.
“I was so scared,” said Kumu Brad Lum, after learning about the call for armed protests.
He says he’s worried about safety and a potential clash with Trump supporters.
“For your safety, I’m asking everyone whoever is going to attend the aha do not come between 12 and 5 because of that clash,” he said.
State Sen. Kurt Favella, a Republican, condemns the violence at the US Capitol and believes Hawaii is safer place than the mainland.
“Hawaii is the hardest state to bear arms. They would not come and jeopardize that,” said Favella (R-Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point).
“They don’t know the atmosphere in Hawaii,” he added.
On Monday, state deputy sheriffs lowered flags at the state Capitol to honor the two Capitol police officers who died after last week’s riot.
“It was very emotional for me and chicken skin to see that go down,” said Favella.
Besides the inauguration, Jan. 20 is also the opening day of the legislature.
Unlike the big celebrations of the past, ceremonies will be scaled back and public meetings will be virtual because of the pandemic.